David Downing (actor)

David Downing was an American stage, film, and television actor. He was one of the original members of the Negro Ensemble Company in New York City.[1][2][3]

David Downing
DiedNovember 2017

Downing, a native of Harlem, New York City, attended the High School of Performing Arts.[4] As a child actor, he made his professional debut on Broadway in The Green Pastures.[4] He served a tour of duty with the U.S. Armed Forces in Okinawa.[4]

As part of the Negro Ensemble Company in the 1960s and 70s, Downing appeared in productions including the Obie Award-winning musical The Great MacDaddy,[5][6] and the successful play Ceremonies in Dark Old Men.[7][8][9] Downing later appeared in the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, Miss Evers' Boys.[10][11][12]

Downing has appeared in films, including Gordon's War,[13] and numerous television shows, including The Jeffersons, Baretta,[14] Backstairs at the White House,[15][16] and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.[17]

Downing died in Los Angeles in November 2017 at the age of 74.[18]

Filmography (selected)


Year Title Role Notes
1971 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me Heff
1972 Up the Sandbox John
1973 Gordon's War Otis Russell
1978 Coming Attractions 'Dark Town' Singer
1989 Listen to Me Officer of the Court
2006 Circus Camp Jamaica Joe


Year Title Role Notes
2005 The Bernie Mac Show Father Episode: Prison Break
1998 JAG Chaplain Episode: With Intent to Die
1992-1993 Roc Dr. Brown / Uncle Warren Two episodes
1991 Cast a Deadly Spell Thadius Pilgrim TV movie
1990-1991 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reverend White / Presenter Two episodes
1989 227 Father Gabbay / Walter Two episodes
1988 Meet the Raisins! Red Voice, TV special
1987 Designing Women Sam Episode: Anthony Jr.
1983 Hill Street Blues Chester David Episode: Moon Over Uranus: The Sequel
1982 Father Murphy Marcus Washington Episode: The Dream Day
1979-1982 The Jeffersons Edgar Thornton / Albert Fox Three episodes
1979 Backstairs at the White House Butler Dixon TV miniseries
1978 Ziegfeld: The Man and His Women Bert Williams TV Movie
1977 Little House on the Prairie Jackson Henry Episode: The Wisdom of Solomon
1977 What's Happening!! Mr. Barnes Episode: The Firing Squad
1976 All in the Family John Kasten Episode: Mike's Move
1976 Baretta Sully Episode: Count the Days I'm Gone
1975 That's My Mama Quincy Episode: Queen of the Ribs
1975 Movin' On Lee Andrews Episode: ...To Be in Carolina


  1. Ron Howell (March 1987). "The Negro Ensemble Company: 20 Years of Theatrical Excellence". Ebony. p. 96. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  2. Peter Bailey (June 1973). "Black Theater Group Goes On Broadway". Ebony. p. 85. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  3. "Negro Ensemble Company records". New York Public Library - Archives & Manuscripts. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  4. "Theatre playbill for Song of the Lusitanian Bogey and Daddy Goodness". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  5. Thomas S. Hischak (February 18, 2011). Off-Broadway Musicals since 1919. Scarecrow Press. p. 150. ISBN 9780810877726. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  6. "Obie Awards - 1975". Obie Awards. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  7. Anthony D. Hill; Douglas Q. Barnett (December 4, 2008). Historical Dictionary of African American Theater. Scarecrow Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780810862760. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  8. John Simon (March 3, 1969). "A Phoenix Too Infrequent". New York Magazine. p. 50. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  9. Lonne Elder (1969). Ceremonies in Dark Old Men: A Play in Two Acts. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 9780573606885. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  10. Otis L. Guernsey; Jeffrey Sweet (April 1, 2000). The Best Plays of 1989-1990: The Complete Broadway and Off-Broadway Sourcebook. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 504. ISBN 9781557830906. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  11. David Richards (November 28, 1989). "Theater". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  12. "Finalist: Miss Evers' Boys, by David Feldshuh". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  13. "New York Beat". Jet. August 16, 1973. p. 62. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  14. Jon Abbott (July 1, 2009). Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots. McFarland. p. 77. ISBN 9780786454013. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  15. Kathleen Fearn-Banks; Anne Burford-Johnson (October 3, 2014). Historical Dictionary of African American Television. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 47. ISBN 9780810879171. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  16. Vincent Terrace (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials, Volume 2. VNR AG. p. 29. ISBN 9780918432612. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  17. "Seven Porters from Stockbridge". Los Angeles Post-Examiner. October 24, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  18. Horsford, Victoria. (November 11, 2017). "What’s Going On: AS THE WORLD TURNS", Our Time Press. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
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